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Kevin Holland: Khamzat Chimaev ‘only does this extra wannabe street s*** when the media is around’

Kevin Holland is simply asking for Khamzat Chimaev to keep that same energy.

Ahead of his UFC 279 fight against Daniel Rodriguez, Holland makes it clear that he has no beef with the event’s brash headliner, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to sugarcoat what he sees.

With both men in Las Vegas for UFC 279, it’s hard for Holland to ignore what he said is how Chimaev acts for cameras compared to what he sees behind-the-scenes.

“I feel like he likes the f****** media,” Holland said at UFC 279 media day. “I feel like he only does this extra wannabe street s*** when the media is around.

“Other than that, he doesn’t do it. When you guys aren’t around, he wants to do fist bumps and he wants to be your best friend. When you guys are around, then all of a sudden he’s like, ‘Rawr, I’ll rip your f****** head off.’

“You ain’t ripping s*** off, dog. Let’s be real. You want a paycheck just like the rest of these guys around here.”

Chimaev is set to face Nate Diaz in UFC 279’s non-title main event. The 28-year-old Chechen-born fighter has made a big splash early in his UFC career, riding a 5-0 start to MMA Fighting’s No. 3 welterweight ranking and the verge of title contention.

Chimaev and Holland have had multiple incidents during that time, including a alleged hotel run-in in late 2020 followed by Holland criticizing how Chimaev handled his brush with COVID-19. Chimaev even responded to Holland’s latest comments on Wednesday, asking on Instagram whether Holland forgot “that last slap I gave you at the hotel” and posing the question to Holland of whether he wanted another.

For now, though, both men have their own assignments at UFC 279. “Trailblazer” acknowledges Chimaev is likely going to beat Diaz, but he also won’t be surprised Chimaev believes too much in his own hype.

“Nothing’s ever locked in 100 percent,” Holland told MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin. “If somebody shows up to fight and the other guy shows up thinking he’s already got the fight in the bag, it could easily go the other way. That’s just part of the fight game.

“Diaz, people are writing him off, but he rocked the champ right now. He had the champ on wobble legs. He was on corner street in the fifth round, final round, in a very tough fight and that guy is one hell of a striker. Chimaev is a very, very dominant wrestler. Diaz is a very great grappler. He has very good grappling off his back and I’m pretty sure he can do damage on top. So I would never completely write off Diaz.

“On paper, 100 percent Chimaev should win this fight,” Holland continued. “But as fighters we tend to get a little big-headed, we think we have everything in the bag. That could be the one problem.”

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